Oooh Barracuda!

The jetti at Kota Kinabalu

I am back from my holiday! Yes, I went on holiday to Malaysia while I was on holiday in Hong Kong… A holiday within a holiday, but I think We need to go deeper”… ok, enough with the crap. Here’s my latest adventure.

I love scuba diving and I got to do loads this holiday in the beautiful waters of Pulau Gaya – a small island just off the coast of Kota Kinabalu. On our first two days we stayed at Gayana eco resort, a resort revolved around the preservation and restoration of precious ocean life with its own marine ecology research center.Click here to find out more about the amazing work they do.
The villas are built over water so you only have to run and jump off your balcony to get into the water where you will immediately be aware of the rich sea life the area has to offer. They also have a few of their own biorock structures, to help accelerate growth on our struggling coral reefs and it’s all accessible by snorkel! I spent 3 hours in water looking at the diversity the eco centre had to offer. I was particularly impressed by the amount of Giant clams I was able to see, the fruit of their giant clam propagation project. Not only is this resort an excellent example on how tourism can help instead of hinder our environment i
t’s also a great place for families. All non motorized sports equipment is free for hire and the marine ecology centre has great programs for kids to learn more about helping the environment in a fun way. This includes adopting a coral, where you help collect broken coral off the sea bed and then replant it in cement. Once you adopt the coral the marine centre will keep you updated with your corals progress even after they’ve returned it to the ocean. Their dive centre has short taster courses set up for non-divers. Something my father did and enjoyed so much he went on to get his full dive certification.

After 2 days we moved to the sister resort Bunga Raya which is situated more deeply into the surrounding jungle but some still with ocean views. This one was more expensive but definitely worth the money, they truly knew how to make you feel special. The service was exceptional and the staff wonderfully friendly. We were still able to keep on diving, in fact the snorkel sight was richer in fish population and the dive sites were closer from this resort. So no complaints here!

Now to the really fun stuff… Diving.

The water in Malaysia is unbelievably clear and teaming with life, just while I was diving with my father and brother near the boardwalk a school of barracuda started circling us, I was completely amazed at the steady, and seemingly pre-calculated, way they would circle us. Occasionally they’d just stop and look at you, having a school of barracuda stare you down is a strong reminder of whose neighbourhood this really is. Having said that, the barracuda did not seem to mind our present and were at most, a little curious.

Barracuda in Malaysia

For anyone considering a dive holiday in Malaysia I give it 8/10! The water is clear blue and beautiful, there’s plenty of tropical fish to see as well as some gorgeous coral outcrops. The downside is the jellyfish, these waters have box jellyfish. I had a close call with one of these buggers  while I was there, I was swimming to shore after a snorkel session and saw it right in front of my face. How I didn’t get stung I’m not entirely sure. I was out of that water as fast as my legs could carry, literally shaking with fear. One of the resort workers was already on the scene, net in hand. The catch any boxy jellyfish found close to the shore to keep the beaches safe.

All in all, I’d go to Malaysia again in the blink of an eye, although I will always be terrified of the box jellyfish. – It’s not really saying much as I’m petrified of most jellyfish.
I hope you’ve found this post useful and I hope you have the opportunity to visit these waters yourself.

Note: This post was meant to be posted months ago… in July 2011… I apologise for not getting it to you sooner.

9740 km

Some of my most prominent memories of childhood take place in the airport , I remember squirming with impatience in the arrivals hall, my mother gripping my hand while craned my neck, searching the crowd of strangers for the hero of my story to appear, the moment I caught sight of him I would break free of my mother’s grip and go sprinting to his open arms and be lifted up into the air. He would then continue his stroll over to my mother to give her a big kiss before pulling my brother into a hug, this was my Father. Sometimes he would bring presents for us from the places he’d been, the best time was when I could see him coming down the steps of the plane through the massive airport window, I noticed him carrying something that must have been too big to fit into his small suitcase, it felt like forever, waiting for him to get through passport control and into the arrivals hall, but when he did I was ready for him. There in his arms was the a big brown bear, dressed in brown leather jacket with a sheepskin collar and big flying goggles on his head. My very own pilot bear.

Father daughter scene

In my head, my father was gone for months as opposed to the few days and occasionally, few weeks that he actually was. I’m now aware of how lucky I was that this was the case and that there are many others whose fathers were away more often than they were home, and some fathers who are never there at all. Still, I’d secretly sulk every time he had to go and wonder what he did while he was away, what awesome adventures he was up to and of course, how important he was that there were people on the other side of the world that needed him to be there. So, as if I had a choice, I’d let my Father go when they called.

In those days my world was small and seemingly perfect. I lived in a beautiful cottage and got to go on holiday to the coast to see my Mémé et Pépé, the first time we went there by plane was a momentous experience for me. I’d finally be able to know what happened after my Father walked through the departures hall for myself. Although I don’t remember the details I do remember the feeling, it was like magic. I loved every moment of that plane ride.

Me and Dad
My Dad and I 10 years later

Thirteen years older and the idea of flying now makes me cringe, all I can think about are the cues at Heathrow, the cramped seat I’ll be strapped to for the next 12 hours, the rude flight attendant and of course flying 9740 km across the globe to see my parents in Hong Kong. I’m sure that somewhere in this world there is a frequent flyer (pilots aside) that still loves a plane journey as much as they did the first time they flew – this person probably needs to get their head checked. Call me spoilt, call me jaded, I just can’t get excited the way I used to. However the moment my feet touch ground in that foreign country that is now called home, I remember how amazing my life is, and how lucky I am to have experienced so much already. This blog is all about my life as the daughter of an expat. From that first move that changed my life forever to the present day. From horror stories to the experiences that films are made about. I hope you enjoy reading about my experiences as much as I’ve enjoyed living them.